Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, Jon Bernthal, Bobb’e J. Thompson

Rated: PG-13 (sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements)

High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

By Matt Greene

Sometimes in filmmaking everything lines up perfectly: Your cast is in place, your script is tight and original, your subject is nuanced, your direction is strong, and your final product is edited brilliantly. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a quirky and lovely study of teendom and friendship, is one of those serendipitous occasions in which the films skill and flow make it seem effortless. It’s a refreshingly quiet high school dramedy with the unforced ability to be simultaneously sincere and LOL funny. As sounds of smart and honest laughter rang throughout my theater, this indie charmed the socks off me.

The titular “Me” is an adolescent named Greg, who spends his days making movie parodies with his “co-worker” Earl, obligingly visiting a cancer-ridden classmate he barely knows, and trying to stay anonymous. Much like John Hughes films, it represents teens with a heightened reality, relying on stereotypes slightly more than it should. However, Greg’s world is a fun one to visit, staying plenty recognizable as you envy its idiosyncrasies. These are most apparent in the collage of fantastic characters, showcasing in long takes the performer’s considerable talents. Everyone, especially the three teens in the title, is full of human self-absorption, wide-eyed wonder, and an immense sense of humor.

While its entertainment goals are fully realized, it could also serve as an incredible resource for teens dealing with sickness and loss, things outside of their control. It looks at sadness with a suspicious eye, allowing it to exist but never rule. M&E&tDG provides an honest, irreverent, and dryly hilarious look at teenage sickness that stick with you.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

By Cole Schneider

“Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” was the biggest hit of this year’s Sundance festival. After a standing ovation it won both the Grand Jury prize and the Audience award. It’s difficult to see why.

M&E&tDG is a film about a boy named Greg who learns to care for someone other than himself. Unfortunately it never truly happens and the script certainly doesn’t care about anyone else. Greg, the titular ‘Me’, is the perfect vessel to navigate the film’s laborious solipsism. The title is misleading as it tacks on Earl and the dying girl, two characters who surely have something to offer, but are never given the chance. They exist simply to advance Greg’s cause. It would be more accurately titled, “Me and No One Else” or simply, “Me”.

Earl is a racist caricature who probably has a great untold perspective on this story. Here he is reduced to Greg’s black business partner who makes bad movies, likes girl’s chests, and lives in a bad neighborhood with his even more caricatured brother. Rachel, the dying girl, fares little better. She has cancer and a dearth of other things to say about her. At the end we learn something interesting about her; there is probably a lot more to learn, but the film is more interested in showing off its fancy camera and editing than in showing us anything about her character.

With so many cliches and such little character development we are left to wallow in Greg’s–and the film’s–self-absorption. It’s lazy, pandering, and narcissistic. This is all such a shame because even through the insincerity there is a great comic spirit.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

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